BOOK VI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE WEEKS.
13. Chapter xiii. The behaviour of Sophia on the present occasion...
Mrs Honour departed according to orders, and finding Black George
below-stairs, delivered him the purse, which contained sixteen
guineas, being, indeed, the whole stock of Sophia; for though her
father was very liberal to her, she was much too generous to be rich.
Black George having received the purse, set forward towards the
alehouse; but in the way a thought occurred to him, whether he should
not detain this money likewise. His conscience, however, immediately
started at this suggestion, and began to upbraid him with ingratitude
to his benefactor. To this his avarice answered, That his conscience
should have considered the matter before, when he deprived poor Jones
of his L500. That having quietly acquiesced in what was of so much
greater importance, it was absurd, if not downright hypocrisy, to
affect any qualms at this trifle. In return to which, Conscience, like
a good lawyer, attempted to distinguish between an absolute breach of
trust, as here, where the goods were delivered, and a bare concealment
of what was found, as in the former case. Avarice presently treated
this with ridicule, called it a distinction without a difference, and
absolutely insisted that when once all pretensions of honour and
virtue were given up in any one instance, that there was no precedent
for resorting to them upon a second occasion. In short, poor
Conscience had certainly been defeated in the argument, had not Fear
stept in to her assistance, and very strenuously urged that the real
distinction between the two actions, did not lie in the different
degrees of honour but of safety: for that the secreting the L500 was a
matter of very little hazard; whereas the detaining the sixteen
guineas was liable to the utmost danger of discovery.
By this friendly aid of Fear, Conscience obtained a compleat victory
in the mind of Black George, and, after making him a few compliments
on his honesty, forced him to deliver the money to Jones.